48DAYS TO SUBMISSION
only writers understand the equal parts excitement and terrifying anticipation of querying. The act of sending book babies to agents is the next step some of us choose towards publication. But some of us (including me last year) want a bit of practice before taking the "querying an agent" step. That's what I wanted from PitchWars last year. But whether you plan to submit to Pitchwars or go straight into querying, the same rules apply: get the basics outta the way.
Have you checked your wordcount?
Make sure you're within the appropriate wordcount for your category + genre. Do not assume you will be the exception to the wordcount rule! It doesn't help your chances at a request for more pages. There are exceptions to this, of course, but your best chance for that first "yes" is to follow the wordcount for your category + genre (PitchWars mentor Sarah Nicolas posted wordcounts here). It's super important to pay attention to both as they don't often change.
Are you sure you wrote in the right category?
Make sure your Main Character(s) have been written in an age appropriate voice. I know that there's mature YA and immature Adult protagonists, but if written that way, it must be for a reason. Don't try to fit an Adult plot into a YA hole because you think it has a better chance: it's an obvious ploy that's a quick turnoff to readers. Write your characters honestly within their age brackets for your best shot.
Have you polished those first pages?
Make the first page shine, the first five gleam, and the first chapter sparkle. Those initial pages are your reader's first impression and you don't want to let them down! Also, sometimes you only have the first chapter to make up a reader's mind, so don't you want them to want more?
Did you eliminate filler words?
I'm sure you've heard about show versus tell, but eliminating filler words was a game changer for me last year. Using this list as a jump off point, hit ctrl+F in your manuscript and start cutting. You'll be shocked to learn that a lot of the time you can eliminate the filler word without needing to replace it. See? Game changer!
Did you write a synopsis?
I love beat sheets, and my favorite reason for them is they help me write a 1-2 page synopsis really quick. Maybe that makes my synopsis' simple but I can usually complete a short synopsis for the main plot within a day because of them. I love the Larry Brooks Story Structure method, but you can find various beat sheets here.
This isn't a comprehensive list of the ways to get your manuscript submission ready (others have their own checklists), but these are the checks that are super important to me.
Have questions? Shoot me a message or leave a comment!